Fighting for Love

By: Nicole Flockton

The Elite Book 3


1





“Wow, so stunning.”

Brooke peered out the small, rectangular window as the Boeing 747 banked gracefully over the sparkling blue waters of Sydney Harbor. The view reminded her of the beaches in Brazil where she’d been a short time ago.

She couldn’t believe more than three weeks had passed since she’d marched out into a stadium full of people proudly wearing her USA team uniform, ready to compete in her first Olympic Games.

Recalling the chatter from a couple of the Australian competitors, the beaches in Sydney were some of the best in the world. She couldn’t wait to see how Bondi Beach compared to Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana.

Bittersweet memories from her last day in Rio bombarded her mind, images of herself and Dane laughing and kissing on the sands of the picturesque Copacabana Beach. A day spent making beautiful memories, while both knowing a goodbye was just a couple of hours away.

The Games were over and so was her time with Dane Parkland. An Olympic fling, that’s all it was, one of the many hook-ups that had occurred during those two weeks when hormones flew in all directions from thousands of competitors.

Why she’d hoped her fling with Dane would be different, that it could be more than short term, she had no idea. Maybe because her good friend Julia reconciled with her true love Mitch, and they’d gotten engaged at the Games. Realistically, Brooke knew she and Dane would never have worked. Long distance relationships were hard to maintain with half a world between them. Impossible seemed more like it when you added in their rigorous training schedules.

So why did her heart still ache whenever she thought about Dane?

Brooke had no choice but to push the despondent thoughts away. This trip to Australia was a once in a lifetime chance to train with up-and-coming diving coach, Susie Hamilton. A week after she’d arrived home from Rio, opportunity knocked, and she’d jumped all over it. Making the switch from synchronized diving events to individual events shouldn’t be difficult. Being on the springboard, knowing that she would be diving into the air alone, scared and excited her all at the same time. For her whole diving career, she’d always trained with a partner, always had someone standing next to her. It had been comforting. Unfortunately, that was in the past. Lulu, her partner, had retired directly after their disappointing performance at the Games.

Brooke still wanted to dive, though. There was nothing stopping her from teaming up with someone else, forging a new partnership. Only the thought hadn’t appealed. After talking everything over with her parents, with their full support, she’d decided to take on the challenge of going alone. Walking a new path and being in charge of her own fate. Her new destiny: qualifying for the 2020 Games and winning an Olympic medal.

This was why she now sat on a plane about to land at Sydney Airport.

All by herself.

The start of her new career venture.

Life went on.

Bruised hearts healed, and wonderful times spent with a man became wonderful memories.

“Cabin crew, prepare for landing.”

Excitement replaced the melancholy that had taken up residence in her soul. She was in the land down under, Dane’s home country, the place he’d told her so much about. Part of her had hoped he’d ask her to come visit him. He hadn’t, though. That last day, he’d given her a hug, kissed her until breathing became impossible, then walked away. Although he did glance back and blow her a kiss.

The chances of seeing him during the next six weeks were pretty slim. He’d told her he lived in Melbourne and she would be staying in Sydney. She’d thought about contacting him, let him know she was flying in, but she’d held off. He hadn’t reached out to her and she hadn’t reached out to him. Fear of rejection had prevented her from taking the plunge.

No, she’d be better off forgetting all about Dane and concentrating on the task at hand—getting in with this new coach so that at the next Olympics she would be standing on the podium receiving a medal instead of watching it happen to others.





* * *



Brooke walked through the double glass sliding doors that separated passengers from family and friends waiting to greet them. The letter from Diving Australia had informed her a driver would meet her and take her to an apartment where she would be living for the duration of her stay.